Visiting your gynaecologist is hardly a calendar highlight. The thought of getting your bits out to a complete stranger, engaging in awkward conversation, and the fear of pain, can leave you feeling uncomfortable and anxious.
It’s these feelings that are leading some women to avoid taking action when it comes to their intimate health. A study by Vagisil found more than two in five (45%) women said that if they have a problem with their intimate health, they avoid dealing with it*.
As the old adage goes, knowledge is power, and half the battle in overcoming these feelings is to know what to expect when you step into your gynaecologist’s office. With this in mind, Dr Vanessa Mackay of the Royal College of Gynaecologists is lifting the lid on your appointment. From simple tips to help you feel comfortable, as well as straight-forward advice on how to make the most of the appointment, she’s got it covered.
Ahead of the exam, your gynaecologist will start by asking you about your own and your family’s medical history, so if you don’t already know the background, do your homework and catch up with the relevant family member. They are also likely to ask when your last period was and may ask more specific details on the length and strength of your flow, so make sure you have made a note.
The gynaecologist will also ask you questions about your sexual activity. This is not out of nosiness, but so they can have an accurate picture of potential issues before the examination commences.
The thing to remember here is to be open and honest when answering these questions. Your gynaecologist is not there to judge you but to ensure your health is being put first, so if you’ve experienced painful sex recently or are suffering from dryness, put any embarrassment aside and let them know.
Now is the time for you to ask questions. Before the examination begins, the practitioner should talk you through each step of the examination and check you’re happy for them to proceed. So, if you’re feeling at all uncomfortable, let them know and they will soon make you feel at ease.
Once you’re happy, they will ask for your verbal consent to get started.
The gynaecologist will then leave the room while you change out of your clothes. Some practitioners will give you a gown to change into, whereas others will ask you to remove your skirt or trousers, along with your underwear, and provide a sheet to drape over your modesty. You’ll then lay back on the examining table.
It’s completely normal to feel worried about pain but generally the examination is not painful, and if you do experience any soreness, let the practitioner know as it could be a sign of a condition. If you’re really worried, breathe. Taking slow, deep breaths will help you to relax and reduce any discomfort.
A physical examination usually starts with the practitioner pressing on your stomach to feel for abnormalities. This is followed by an examination of the outside of your vagina, the vulva.
Next, the practitioner will encourage you to lie down and pop your feet up in the stirrups and conduct an internal examination of your vagina. This involves inserting a small, lubricated instrument called a speculum into your vagina to open your vaginal walls. At this point your gynaecologist might take a smear test, where the cervix is swiped with a spatula or brush.
Your doctor will then perform an internal examination by placing their fingers into the vagina whilst pressing on the stomach at the same time with the other hand. This is performed to feel the womb and ovaries, and to check for any issues like pain or swelling.
Once the examination is complete the doctor will ask you to get dressed before chatting through the findings and answering any final questions you might have. All in all, the process should take around 15 minutes – a very small price to pay for the peace of mind that your vagina is healthy.
Vagisil is a brand developed by women for women, to address their most personal needs. For over 40 years, we have been on a mission to create products that improve the intimate health of women around the world. We have seen first-hand that when women take control of their intimate health, they are more focused, productive, comfortable and confident; it enables women to be at their best.
Women in the UK do not talk or share much about vaginal issues, and are usually afraid of talking to their partners, friends, family, and even to healthcare professionals. Vagisil is on a mission to encourage women to be Fearless About their Vaginal Health. We must break down taboos, be forthcoming and talk freely about our intimate health, no matter what the condition. At Vagisil, we are passionate about solving the vaginal health issues that affect women most.
The Vagisil range is available from Boots, Superdrug, selected Chemists and Amazon.
We get this one a lot. A number of things can contribute to vaginal itch, including hormonal changes (pregnancy, birth control and menopause) and even harsh soaps, laundry detergents and certain fabrics. When accompanied by a strong odor or discharge, a yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis (BV) or an STD could be the culprit. In this case, we recommend that you consult your doctor.
Using lubricants before or during sex can help relieve dryness and prevent pain or discomfort. Moisturizing, pH balanced washes are also a great alternative to using washes that contain harsh chemicals, which can dry out your skin. And don’t forget, hydration is key! Drinking water helps ALL of your skin stay hydrated.
Yes. A million times yes. All vaginas have a unique scent, which can be made more pronounced by things like sex, sweating or having your period. Your nose will be able to tell you when your natural smell wears off.